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A new era for Exploris Aquarium after £2m overhaul

By Allan Preston

Published 12/08/2016

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen (centre) at the refurbished Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry with deputy mayor of Ards and North Down Bill Keery and Exploris general manager Ann Moreland
Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen (centre) at the refurbished Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry with deputy mayor of Ards and North Down Bill Keery and Exploris general manager Ann Moreland
Minister Michelle McIlveen chats with local girls Kieva and Lara during her visit
The Minister grabs a photo on her mobile while enjoying the upgraded Exploris Aquarium
The Minister listens to Exploris' expert staff

Exploris Aquarium will finally reopen its doors to the public on Monday after a closure of nearly two years.

The under-threat Portaferry attraction was saved in February when investment of £2 million was given the go-ahead to allow a full refurbishment. Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd is the new operator of Northern Ireland's only aquarium, with support from Ards and North Down Borough Council and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

As well as new enclosures for the wide range of fish and aquatic species the aquarium previously accommodated, the new Exploris retains its seal sanctuary and incorporates specially constructed living environments for otters.

And, for the first time in Northern Ireland, visitors will be able to get close to a Nile crocodile.

Speaking ahead of the opening day, Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen said: "I was impressed by the high quality attraction it has now become while retaining at its core an educational experience.

"Exploris now stands ready to reopen to the public next week and I wish the staff and management the very best as they embark upon this exciting new era."

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